IMDb > Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence (1983)
Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence
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Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence (1983) More at IMDbPro »

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Laurens Van der Post (novel)
Nagisa Ôshima (screenplay) ...
View company contact information for Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
2 September 1983 (USA) See more »
Java, 1942 - A clash of cultures, a test of the human spirit.
In 1942 British soldier Jack Celliers comes to a Japanese prison camp. The camp is run by Yonoi, who has a firm belief in discipline... See more » | Add synopsis »
Plot Keywords:
Won BAFTA Film Award. Another 8 wins & 6 nominations See more »
(57 articles)
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User Reviews:
A rare cross-cultural experience in the history of cinema and in the war film genre See more (64 total) »


  (in credits order) (verified as complete)

David Bowie ... Maj. Jack 'Strafer' Celliers

Tom Conti ... Col. John Lawrence

Ryûichi Sakamoto ... Capt. Yonoi

Takeshi Kitano ... Sgt. Gengo Hara (as Takeshi)

Jack Thompson ... Group Capt. Hicksley
Johnny Ohkura ... Kanemoto

Alistair Browning ... De Jong
James Malcolm ... Celliers' Brother
Chris Broun ... Celliers aged 12
Yûya Uchida ... Commandant of Military Prison
Ryûnosuke Kaneda ... President of the Court
Takashi Naitô ... Lt. Iwata
Tamio Ishikura ... Prosecutor
Rokkô Toura ... Interpreter
Kan Mikami ... Lt. Ito
Yûji Honma ... Pfc. Yajima
Daisuke Iijima ... Cpl. Ueki
Hideo Murota ... New Camp Commandant
Barry Dorking ... Chief Doctor
Geoff Clendon ... Australian Doctor
Grant Bridger ... P.O.W. Officer
Richard Adams ... P.O.W
Geoff Allen ... P.O.W
Michael Baxter-Lax ... P.O.W.
Mark Berg ... P.O.W
Marcus Campbell ... P.O.W
Colin Francis ... P.O.W
Richard Hensby ... P.O.W
Richard Hoare ... P.O.W
Martin Ibbertson ... P.O.W
Rob Jayne ... P.O.W
Richard Mills ... P.O.W
Mark Penrose ... P.O.W
Arthur Ranford ... P.O.W
Steve Smith ... P.O.W
Stephen Taylor ... P.O.W
Richard Zimmerman ... P.O.W
Ian Miller ... English Guard
Don Stevens ... Pastor
Yoichi Iijima ... Japanese Soldier
Satoshi Ito ... Japanese Soldier
Masaki Kusakabe ... Japanese Soldier
Kunihide Kuruma ... Japanese Soldier
Hiroshi Mikami ... Japanese Soldier
Akihiro Masuda ... Japanese Soldier
Tokuhisa Masuda ... Japanese Soldier
Takeshi Nagasawa ... Japanese Soldier
Takashi Odashima ... Japanese Soldier
Masanori Okada ... Japanese Soldier
Shoetsu Sato ... Japanese Soldier
Rintaro Shibata ... Japanese Soldier
Masamichi Shibasaki ... Japanese Soldier
Kaname Shimura ... Japanese Soldier
Kenzo Shirahama ... Japanese Soldier
Hisao Takeda ... Japanese Soldier
Hidenobu Togo ... Japanese Soldier
Atsuo Yamashita ... Japanese Soldier
Heiwa Yoshihara ... Japanese Soldier
Takeshi Yu ... Japanese Soldier
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Rex Wilmshurst ... P.O.W.

Directed by
Nagisa Ôshima 
Writing credits
Laurens Van der Post (novel "The Seed and The Sower")

Nagisa Ôshima (screenplay) &
Paul Mayersberg (screenplay)

Produced by
Terry Glinwood .... executive producer
Masato Hara .... executive producer
Joyce Herlihy .... associate producer
Geoffrey Nethercott .... executive producer
Eiko Oshima .... executive producer
Larry Parr .... associate producer
Jeremy Thomas .... producer
Original Music by
Ryûichi Sakamoto 
Cinematography by
Tôichirô Narushima (director of photography)
Film Editing by
Tomoyo Oshima 
Production Design by
Shigemasa Toda 
Art Direction by
Andrew Sanders 
Makeup Department
Antony Clavet .... makeup supervisor
Glenis Daly .... hair stylist
Bryony Hurden .... makeup assistant
Robern Pickering .... chief makeup artist
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Jonty Barraud .... second assistant director
Geoffrey Hill .... third assistant director
Lee Tamahori .... first assistant director
Art Department
Masaru Arakawa .... set dresser
Lyn Bergquist .... property buyer
Kyoichi Hashimoto .... construction manager
Tetsuya Hataya .... assistant art director
Trevor Haysom .... stand-by props assistant
Ryoichi Kamon .... construction technician
Masaaki Kobayashi .... construction technician
Bryan McDonald .... property assistant
Kazumasa Nomura .... assistant art director
Chris Paulger .... stand-by props
Pam Sebold .... property assistant
Yutaka Wakase .... construction technician
Shoichi Yasuda .... property master
Sound Department
Eugene Arts .... boom operator
Akira Honma .... dubbing mixer
Akira Honma .... sound effects
Mikio Mori .... stereo sound consultant: Dolby
Mike Westgate .... sound recordist
Special Effects by
Kevin Chisnall .... special effects supervisor
Visual Effects by
Shulamit Levin .... digital restoration (2007 restored version)
Camera and Electrical Department
Rick Allender .... clapper loader
Ian Beale .... electrician
Dennis Cullen .... grip
Tex Foot .... generator operator
Ken George .... still photographer
Brian Harris .... key grip
Don Jowsey .... best boy
Geoff Maine .... electrician
Warren Mearns .... gaffer
Brendon Mune .... electrician
Jeff O'Donnell .... grip
Ian Philp .... electrician
Andy Roelants .... focus puller
Hiroaki Sugimura .... camera operator
Takashi Ueno .... still photographer
Casting Department
Diana Rowan .... casting: New Zealand
Takashi Ueno .... casting: Japan
Costume and Wardrobe Department
Norman Forsey .... wardrobe assistant
Leslie Gilda .... wardrobe assistant
Kazuo Matsuda .... wardrobe master
Christine West .... wardrobe supervisor
Editorial Department
Kimie Kawagishi .... negative cutter
Kenichi Takashima .... assistant film editor
Transportation Department
Robin Allen-Paris .... transportation manager (as Robin Allen)
Other crew
Vivien Bridgewater .... production secretary
Sevilla Delofski .... assistant to producer
Didi Dickson .... interpreter
Mitsue Fujita .... assistant production accountant
Ralph Gardiner .... armorer
Tony Hedges .... production accountant
Margaret Hilliard .... production coordinator
Raijin Nakahata .... continuity
Lynne Newport .... assistant production accountant
Susan Nicholas .... nurse
Roger Pulvers .... assistant to director
Roger Pulvers .... dialogue coach
Takashi Shirai .... location manager
Kuniko Usui .... production assistant
Natsuko Toda .... translation: Japanese (uncredited)
Kansai Yamamoto .... concept designer (uncredited)
Crew verified as complete

Production CompaniesDistributorsOther Companies

Additional Details

Also Known As:
"Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence" - Australia (DVD box title), Australia (DVD box title), International (English title) (DVD box title)
See more »
123 min
Color (Eastmancolor)
Aspect Ratio:
1.85 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Filming Locations:

Did You Know?

The film's title is not actually spoken by a character at a pivotal emotional moment midway through the movie. The character, Sergeant Gengo Hara, actually says "Merry Christmas, Lawrence. Merry Christmas." Hara does not actually say the film's title until the end of the film.See more »
Factual errors: In the final scene in the prison cell, the cross belt of Lt Col Lawrence's Sam Browne is fitted back to front.See more »
[first lines]
Sgt. Gengo Hara:[in Japanese] Wake up, Lawrence.
Colonel Lawrence:[in Japanese] What is it? Why so early, Sergeant Hara?
Sgt. Gengo Hara:[in Japanese] Hurry up!
Group Capt. Hicksley:What does he want?
Colonel Lawrence:[in English] I'll find out?
Sgt. Gengo Hara:[in Japanese] What?
Group Capt. Hicksley:You don't have to take orders from this man, you know, Lawrence.
Colonel Lawrence:Well, I'm the liaison officer, so I'm liaising.
Sgt. Gengo Hara:[in Japanese] What did he say?
See more »
Movie Connections:
Forbidden ColoursSee more »


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12 out of 13 people found the following review useful.
A rare cross-cultural experience in the history of cinema and in the war film genre, 21 August 2006
Author: GrandeMarguerite from France

Here are excerpts from a study I did on MCML when I was a university student. I wish some of the points I develop below will give a better understanding of some elements in the film. It is better to watch the film before reading this, although the first paragraph can be read as an introduction to MCML.

Only few works introduce a balanced vision of the conflict in the Pacific which opposed the Allies to the Japanese forces during WWII. It is not so frequent that a Japanese film director deals with what is still a critical theme in Japan. MCML is based on a novel written by Sir Laurens van Der Post, a South-African anthropologist who served in the British Army during WWII. Director Nagisa Oshima has brought many alterations to the original material. Van Der Post wrote a semi-autobiographical novel where his war-time memories are blended with his experience in Japan and his ethnological background. Oshima put most of his favorite themes into the film; he found in the novel the material to question traditional Japanese values, opposing them to Western ideology, and his film breaks free from its source but also from any definite film genre. "The Seed and the Sower" and MCML are remarkable because they present a diversity of themes reflecting their authors' preoccupations and some of the subjects they have approached in their careers.

MCML deals with people isolated from the rest of the world under artificial circumstances. As Oshima's work is closer to a psychological drama than to the war film genre, he has obviously favored unity of place to focus on a small group of characters. The plot is set in a very particular context (WWII) when Great-Britain with its allies and Japan were directly fighting against each other in Asia. The opposition between the Asians and the Westerners is a clash opposing colonial empires, races and cultures. None of the main characters is in his homeland nor defends it directly. Java (a Dutch colony) is a sort of no man's land where the British struggled to protect their colonies and where the Japanese fought to expand their conquests, hence the confrontation of two colonial empires. The presence of Korean guards is another hint to the Japanese expansion in South-Eastern Asia. Oshima gave a Japanese name to De Jong's rapist (Kanemoto), alluding to the attempt to obliterate Korea's native culture and its distinctive national features. He gives thus details on the Japanese colonizing proceedings (importation of cheap labor forces, denial of local cultures, propaganda...) yet such elements always remain in the background of the main action. A recurrent theme in some of Oshima's works is the fate of Korea during WWII and the methods used by the Japanese Imperial Army to take advantage of Korean soldiers.

Homosexuality is a key-element, much more important than in "The Seed and the Sower". The POW camp is an all-male world where most impulses are subconscious. Humiliation plays an important part in most relationships between the prisoners and their gaolers. Therefore it is not really a surprise to find that the « story within the story » about Celliers's youth is also about humiliation. The film is about the loss of dignity, not simply the loss of honor. Another recurrent theme is latent homophobia. Kanemoto and his victim, De Jong, are two oppressed characters. As a Korean soldier, Kanemoto turns his humiliation against one of the prisoners. De Jong is a kind of scapegoat who has to bear physical and moral humiliations. There is a parallel between him and Celliers's young brother who is the other scapegoat of the film (the flash-back sequence is about the boy's bullying). Kanemoto and De Jong's story bears indeed on Celliers and his relationship with Yonoi. De Jong and Celliers have to disappear so that the previous order can be restored, just as the sacrifice of a scapegoat supposedly brings back peace and order. Kanemoto and Yonoi both head for disaster once they go too far. Yonoi's attitude hints at what can happen when the fascination for Westerners is too strong. Of course the homosexual subtext concerns mainly Celliers and him. To play the two characters, Oshima deliberately chose two rock-stars (Bowie and Sakamoto) who have both androgynous features. Sakamoto named the music theme "Forbidden Colors" after the title of a novel published by Japanese writer Mishima in 1951 ("Forbidden Colors" is precisely about a young homosexual and his relations in post-war Tokyo. The title of the work is also an allusion to the colors that the emperor of Japan and his family had once the privilege to wear and that were forbidden to ordinary people, a reference to the traditional values of Japan and their disappearance after WWII). Yonoi as a character can be regarded as a metaphor for modern Japan attracted to Western lifestyles and values. Celliers is both a foil and a mirror, being his enemy and his double, with a parallel destiny. That is probably why the Japanese officer is doomed at the end of the film, a difference with Van Der Post's novel where Yonoi survives seven years of prison. Yonoi's behavior condemns him — another reference to Mishima's works where Eros and Thanatos are often related to each other. Celliers's morals are not very clear either. His arrival is heralded by Hara's sarcastic comment: « One more homosexual ». In the scene when Celliers and Lawrence talk to each other through the wall of their cells, as an introduction to his own narration coming after Lawrence's depiction of his love affair with a mysterious woman (the only heterosexual relationship mentioned in the film), Celliers states that he does not have much experience of that kind, his words being rather vague.

MCML raises also questions on the nature of war, on what makes people friends or enemies, etc. There is plenty to enjoy in this haunting film, well acted, well directed, with an unforgettable score. Very close to a masterpiece.

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What Exactly Happened to His Brother? scndform
Gayness... agitpop
What did Yonoi see in Jack? r5a
Where was the budget for COMPLETE subtitles? fsb_mc
Celliers: British or Australian? Desert-Djinn
'Merry Christmas! Merry Christmas, Mr Lawrence! gubar
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